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Topics addressed on September 6, 2006:
Responding to a security notice for a frozen credit file
We have frozen our credit with you. We just received a letter from you saying that there has been a change in the name, Social Security number, or address in our credit report. Are we in any danger of identity theft since we have already frozen our credit? We don't want to order another credit report, so is there a way to speak to someone to find out what the problem is?
Experian is required to send a notice anytime the information you list in your question changes in a frozen credit history. It is unlikely, though, that you need to be worried about fraud.
Changes to your identifying information would occur only because an existing creditor has reported a change to Experian. No information can come from a new lender because they do not have access to your credit history and cannot report new accounts.
Your existing creditors may have incorrectly updated their files and subsequently reported the changed information, such as a transposed digit in your Social Security number or street address, or a misspelling of your name.
Another potential cause could be that you have moved recently or changed your billing address, both of which could result in a change to the identifying information in your credit history.
About the only way those changes could occur as a result of fraud would be if someone were intentionally manipulating the information in an effort to take over your existing accounts. To do so, they would almost certainly have to be an employee of one of your account holders. That is about the only way they could access records to change your accounts. The only other possibility would be that they had the ability to create very good false proof documents to send to Experian to verify a change.
So many people have routine changes that Experian has no way to know if a requested change should be questioned. That is why we send the letter to you as a security alert. That lets you tell us if action is needed.
Experian sends the letter to both the previous address we have for you and, if there was an address change, to the new address, to ensure you get the notification. We don’t include specific information so the letter won’t put you at risk if it goes to a new address at which you do not reside.
If you haven’t had any changes, I suggest you request a copy of your credit history, either online or by telephone. You will be required to pass a stringent identity verification process, and may be required to send proof documents because of the changes and the fact that your credit history is frozen. Usually, though, you can get your credit history instantly.
Upon receiving the credit history, you will be able to identify any unusual information and take appropriate action, including contacting the business reporting the information.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team